Appointment of a Guardian Ad Litem
If you have minor children and are going through a divorce in the state of New Jersey, you may have concerns regarding child custody and how much time you will be able to have with your children following your divorce. Oftentimes, parents are unable to reach an agreement regarding the child custody arrangement, even after multiple discussions with each other. In these cases, a court may use their discretion and appoint what is known as a guardian ad litem. While it may seem confusing that a stranger will make decisions regarding how much time you spend with your child, the duties of a guardian ad litem can actually help ensure that the best interests of the child are met.
Guardian Ad Litem Appointment
A family court in the state of New Jersey may appoint a guardian ad litem. This is a neutral third party who does not act on behalf of either parent but rather in the legal best interest of a minor child, specifically with regard to custody in the case of a divorce. It is important to note that neglect and abuse do not need to be present in order for the court to appoint a guardian ad litem. In fact, a court will often appoint a guardian ad litem when the parents of a child can not come to an agreement regarding child custody arrangements following the divorce.
Understanding the Scope of a Guardian Ad Litem’s Duties
While a guardian ad litem does have wide discretion with regards to determining the best interest of a child, their power is not unlimited. A guardian ad litem does have the ability to investigate and make determinations regarding the living conditions, family relationships, emotional and physical well-being, and background of the child in order to make a suggestion to the court regarding the child custody arrangement following a divorce. A guardian ad litem may ask friends and family members personal questions or even visit the child’s school to truly understand their living conditions and environment. At the end of their investigation, they will provide a recommendation to the court regarding how they feel the child custody should be divided among the parents and how visitation should occur.
Rejecting a Guardian Ad Litem’s Decision
The guardian ad litem’s report does not have to be adopted as a matter of law. In fact, each parent has the right to present to the court their own child custody arrangement, and explain why this would be in the best interest of the child. Each parent may present witnesses and any relevant evidence that illustrates why the recommendation provided to the court from the guardian ad litem is truly not in the best interest of the child. The judge will make the final decision regarding the child custody arrangements and visitation schedule after hearing all evidence.
Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney
If the court has appointed a guardian ad litem in your case, you may feel as if you are being investigated for neglect or abuse of your child Be assured that this is not the case. A guardian ad litem only acts in the best interest of the child. However, the experience can be frustrating and challenging. If you are in the process of a divorce, contact an experienced family law attorney to help you through it. Call our legal team at Giro Law at 201-690-1642 today.